South Korean Government Targets Hold’em Pubs in Illegal Gambling Crackdown

According to reports in the South Korean press, the country’s government is introducing new regulations to close a legal loophole that allowed for illegal gambling at establishments known as “Hold’em Pubs”.

New rules by South Korean government aim to ban Hold’em pubs.

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Banning Pseudo-Casino Operations

The new laws are the result of a collaboration between the Ministry of Culture, Culture, Sports and Tourism, the National Police Agency and the National Gambling Control Commission and are designed to prevent pseudo-casino operations.

Based upon a recent revision of the Tourism Promotion Act Article 26, the gambling regulations now define casino-like operations as “one where a non-casino operator provides casino business to grant financial benefit to a certain user while inflicting financial deficit on others.”

Those who break the regulations face up to seven years in prison or a 70 million won fine. Twenty different types of games are covered by the new regulations, including slots and table games such as roulette, blackjack, craps, poker, baccarat, bingo, and mahjong.

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The End of the Hold’em Pub

Hold’em Pubs are venues that offer games that come under the category of ‘casino business’. Players are able to exchange winnings for cash or rewards such as discounts. The new guidelines define these establishments as ‘pseudo-casino operations’ and the government has stated that the changes to the law are designed specifically to “cease the illegal activities at Hold’em Pubs”.

Related: South Korea’s Troubling Bled and Piracy and Teenage Gambling Addiction

Nearly all forms of gambling are illegal in South Korea, with the exception of government-approved facilities. The country is home to one casino, the Kangwon Land Casino in Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon Province, and it was granted an exception under the Special Act on the Assistance to the Development of Abandoned Mine Areas in the 1990s.


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